An Adams, Massachusetts, man has pleaded guilty to plotting a terrorist attack on a college campus to support the Islamic State group.
Alexander Ciccolo pleaded guilty in federal court Monday in Springfield, Massachusetts, to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, among other offenses.
Ciccolo pleads guilty to all 4 charges against him. As @samhudzik notes: support for a terrorist org, attempted use of weapon of mass destruction, prohibited person in possession of firearms (had a DUI), assault causing injury (stabbing a nurse in jail with a pen). https://t.co/bFqApLHxmw
— NEPR (@NEPRnet) May 21, 2018
Sentencing set for early September. As he leaves court, Ciccolo says something to his mom and stepfather and nods. His stepfather says, “I love you, Alex.”
— Sam Hudzik (@samhudzik) May 21, 2018
The plea deal calls for a 20-year prison sentence, followed by supervised release for the rest of Ciccolo's life.
"Nobody's happy about forfeiting 20 years of his life, but he recognized that this was the best way to resolve these charges," said Ciccolo's attorney, David Hoose, after the hearing.
Ciccolo was arrested in July 2015 after receiving guns from a federal informant.
Prosecutors say he told the cooperating witness that he wanted to attack a university using guns and homemade bombs similar to the pressure cooker bombs used in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack.
"I can tell you that he no longer supports the group that calls itself ISIS now, or calls itself the Islamic State," Hoose said.
Ciccolo also pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. After his arrest in 2015, Ciccolo had stabbed a nurse at the Franklin County Correction Center 10 times in the head with a pen, while the nurse tried to administer a tuberculosis test.
Hoose would not say Monday when asked if his client had apologized to the nurse.
Ciccolo was scheduled to go on trial next month and faced up to life in prison if convicted. Ciccolo's mother has said her son wouldn't "hurt a fly."
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 5. Hoose said he "certainly hope[s]" Judge Mark Mastroianni will accept the agreement.
"I don't have any reason to think he won't accept the deal," Hoose said. "I think that Judge Mastroianni has known me, known [Assistant U.S. Attorney] Kevin O'Regan for a long time. I'm sure he understands the amount of work and effort that went into this case to get it to this point."
If the judge does reject the deal, Ciccolo could withdraw his guilty pleas and go to trial.
This report includes information from The Associated Press.